Sunday, October 10, 2010

NASCAR invades California

Kyle Busch’s dominance at Auto Club Speedway continued on Saturday with his record-extending 12th victory in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2010 as he took the checkered flag at the 300 despite a speeding penalty that forced him to play catch-up at the most crucial stages late in the race.

“Maybe I need to do it more often,” said Busch (No. 18, NOS Energy Drink Toyota), who was assessed a speeding violation coming out of pit road for the third time this season where he’s gone on to win the race. The speeding violation dropped him to 15th place.

“I don’t like doing it that late in the race,” he continued. “Obviously, it makes it a little bit harder and you never know what can happen. Especially those late cautions can happen at a point in which I get a speeding penalty and I’d have to go to the back and get caught in another one of those. Fortunately it all worked out our way and played out.

“Pit road probably won this race. I can’t thank these guys on pit road enough.”

To say the race was simply won on pit road would be a huge overstatement. The crafty Busch, who also won last February’s NNS Stater Bros. 300 at ACS, zigged in and out of traffic late in the race, ultimately claiming eight spots in 12 laps. He moved to second place after the third caution and passed Brad Keselowski for the lead with 38 laps left.

“You know we just worked our way through traffic, going high, going low, going where they weren’t and being able to get up through there,” Busch said. “Once you get up to seventh or sixth you kind slow and stop. I wasn’t making as much progress as I wish I could have. It was still some decent progress and then the caution came out and I got up there. The guys on pit road really helped me out today.”

Busch, who captured the pole position with a lap of 182.039 mph on the two-mile oval track, recorded his 42nd victory in 198 NNS races. He has now won 82 times in NASCAR national series competition.

It was Busch’s fourth victory and ninth top-10 finish in 12 races at Auto Club Speedway. He has won four of his last five starts here.

Busch held off Keselowski, who maintains his points standings lead by 384 points over Carl Edwards and finished second. Keselowski (No. 22, America’s Tire Dodge) posted his third top-10 finish in nine races at Auto Club Speedway and recorded his 24th top-10 finish in 2010.

“We just needed a little bit of speed to be able to beat the No. 18 and 33,” Keselowski said. “We slightly out-executed the 33 in pit stops on that last restart. I wish we had a little bit more speed on these track but we’re working on it. All in all, it was a decent and respectable day with a second-place finish.”
He continued: “That’s what we had to work with today. These races come down to short runs on the Nationwide side here in California. One of the things about California that has made this a great race on the Nationwide side is you don’t have the restrictor plate on it. California has turned into the new Daytona, some great racing, some great drafting.”

Kevin Harvick (No. 33, Jimmy John’s Chevrolet) had some excellent long runs, but some crucial pit stop errors prevented him from earning the victory. He finished third and posted his 13th top-10 finish in 16 races at ACS.

“I think you just look at the positive and you look at how fast my Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was and it was two weeks in a row where we’ve come with something different probably took the best car and gave it away on pit road,” Harvick said. “We’re going to make some changes on pit road this week and come back with something different. Our cars are just tremendously better then what they have been and obviously we’ve got to take the next step on pit road because they’re just doing a terrible job so we’ve got to fix that. That’s not what our operation is all about. If they can’t stand the pressure they’re going to have to go find something else to do.”

It was a nice run for Danica Patrick (No. 7, Tissot/ Chevrolet), who started the day 14th for her best qualifying run in her eighth NNS race. She was headed for a top-15 finish when a hard wreck with two other cars ended her day with 10 laps to go. She finished 30th.

“I was really happy that the car was good on the long run,” Patrick said. “I was really happy with that. I was settling at the middle and really came on at the end. I’ve been really confused as to what it’s going to take to be good from the beginning to the end and I think that we’re getting closer. I really do. We’re going to have a lot of confidence going into Charlotte I think. It does make a difference to come back for a second time. It’s a bummer there aren’t going to be any others.”

Colin Braun (No. 16, Con-way Ford) was 13th and was the highest finishing rookie.

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